Title: This Is Where It Ends
Author: Cindy K. Sproles
Major Themes: Secrets, Forgiveness, Family
Synopsis: When her dying husband made Minerva Jenkins promise to keep a secret, she had no idea how the promise would come back to haunt her later.
I enjoyed reading Sproles’ What Momma Left Behind a year or two ago, even though I found the subject matter somewhat hard-going, having walked through a similar situation. This Is Where It Ends started with a death, and at that point, I was wondering, “Do all of Sproles’ books start with deaths?” I’m sure that’s not the case, but even though the situation in this book was a difficult one, I had to laugh—the main character had a spunky spirit that I greatly appreciated. I can’t say this most recent read was a favorite of mine, but there were many elements to the story that I did greatly enjoy.
Years ago, I realized I love reading books about old ladies. I don’t know if it’s because, generally, old ladies are really just fun, or if it’s because authors make them fun, but regardless—the ones I’ve met in books, and the ones I’ve met in real life, are typically very lovable. That is certainly true for the lady I met in this story—Minerva Jenkins, a 94-year-old who lives by herself on top of the mountain her husband left her with when he died 30 years earlier. As she goes about her gardening, taking care of the stock, and occasionally hacking her way through the vines growing behind her house to visit her husband’s grave, she’s as content as she’ll likely ever be. One day, she figures, she’ll die and stay where she’s fallen—she has no family and no one comes to visit her—and eventually, the vines covering her husband’s grave will cover her, as well. It’s a lonely life, but it’s a life. Until, that is, Delano Rankin, a reporter from Lexington arrives and begins asking questions about a box of gold he’s uncovered information about that has led him to this mountain and Minerva’s late husband, Stately. Stately made Minerva promise never to tell his secret as he was dying, but what is she to do now? And when Delano stays with more questions and a desire to be helpful, can Minerva learn to accept having someone else around when she’s lived in total isolation most of her life? And what is she to do about Stately’s secret—how long are we bound by our promises, anyway?
As soon as I got through the first few chapters of this book, I knew that Cindy K. Sproles is a brilliant author. Somehow, throughout the first half of the story, she managed to keep my attention despite only having two characters in the story. Later on, a few other characters join the duo, but this is a book with a strong plot, deep characters, and a gripping, occasionally heart-wrenching story. Both Delano and Minerva had things to work through, and over and over again, I was impressed at Delano’s gentleness and love for her. It was beautiful! I was also impressed at the way Sproles helped me identify with Minerva—I’m nowhere near her age, but somehow, I found some common ground, and I loved that. She was spunky, complicated, brutally honest, and still loving and caring in her own sort of way.
Reminiscent of Christy and What Momma Left Behind, this book carries the heart and flavor of the Appalachian mountains—or, at least, what I imagine the mountain culture was like back in the early 1900s. It’s rich, dynamic, and completely heart-warming. That came through beautifully in this story.
If you enjoy stories that feel like they could easily be true, or love stories involving family and learning to trust and support each other, this could be an excellent choice for you. It’s not a fast-paced story necessarily (although, I got through it in record time!), but it is a good one. I’m looking forward to seeing what Sproles comes out with next!
I was given a complimentary copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion of it.
WARNING: There’s quite a bit of language in this story: Swear, blessed, honest to goodness, lawsey mercy, lordy, cursed, what in the Sam Hill, godforsaken, old cuss, derned, dadburn it, blasted, tarnation, and gosh-awful (as well as a few other more original sayings) all show up frequently. There is lying in ch. 6, 8, and 19. A man dies in ch. 1. A woman carries a gun with her and threatens a man with it in ch. 3 and 10. Throughout the book, there are mentions of stolen gold and an affair (and a woman who lived loosely behind her husband’s back). There is a mention of a man who was found drowned in ch. 12. A dog is found with a knife wound in ch. 14. Someone almost dies in a burning building in ch. 21. Someone gets slapped, punched, and bitten and is threatened with a gun in ch. 23. Someone is threatened with a gun again in ch. 24. Someone is almost choked to death in ch. 32, and someone else is whacked with a skillet. Someone dies in ch. 34. In ch. 14, 21, and 29 there are references such as, “He rarely laid with me.…” Characters talk about someone who was born out of wedlock in ch. 17 (this is also referenced several other times).
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults